After a couple of years of careful planning and months of
checking weather and track reports of the CANNING STOCK ROUTE , we're going to
the GULF instead !!
About half of the Canning is closed due to flooding so we have
had to change plans; to make matters worse, with a week to go, Stacey has broken
her arm on a trampoline and we wont know whether she needs to have an operation
until the day before we are due to leave.
Stacey's arm only needs a plaster cast so we're off like a
bucket of prawns in the sun and after lunch and a tyre pressure check at Dalby,
we make our first camp at a roadside stop 72km west of miles. Plenty of firewood
and rubbish around and as its Allan's [dad] birthday and official retirement day
I decided to set up the dunny tent as a few drinks are about to be polished off.
It's great to be away, sitting around the campfire looking up
at the stars which seem so much brighter than they do near the city. A large
scorpion and centipede in our woodpile remind us to keep a look out from now on.
Monday we checked out the Stockmans Hall of Fame where we
found 2 convicts and one sailor with the GERRISH name on the first fleet
register! [wonder which one could be our relative]
That night camp was made at Cornish creek just outside
Muttaburra but no luck with the yabbie trap.
After a look at the Muttuburra replica we headed to Winton for
fuel where the butcher asked us to drop a package off at the blue heeler pub at
Kynuna then we had a beer at the Walkabout Creek Pub at Mckinley before camping
5-7-00 This morning we had a look through the John Flynn
memorial then took a drive out to the airport where the first QANTAS flight
landed. After that bit of tourism we headed bush to Fountain Springs, then on to
the Maltese cross crystal deposit where after an hours searching, we all had at
least one each. Then going via Rigby falls we made camp at Warrigal water hole
near Mt isa.
Thursday afternoon saw us at Cammoweal Caves but no one was
game enough to try abseiling into the caves so we headed to the dry Thornton
river, where with an early camp, we had plenty of time to cook up a big roast
lamb dinner...Pure Luxury!!!
On Friday we got to Lawn Hill, where, as expected, there
was no sites available. After lunch and a walk up the island stack we headed to
Adels Grove where we got the last 2 sites. The next morning we packed up as all
sites were booked out for the next 3 weeks, so it was back to Lawn Hill for the
day to canoe, walk and swim the gorges and waterfalls. It truly is a beautiful
piece of Australia! It was with reluctance that we headed to the Gregory River
across from the Gregory pub, where we set up camp for the next 2 nights as Sunday
9-7-00 was Stacey's birthday. We baked a cake in the camp oven and with a stick
for a candle, it was a real bush birthday.
On Monday we went through Doomadgee and Hells gate to make
camp on the western side of the Calvert River and unexpectedly found a spring
beside camp which saved us a 150m walk down to the water. It was here , after
checking under the car, I found a 50mm crack in the diff housing which had
happened on the corrugations after Hells Gate. bugger!
At Booroloola we got the diff welded up then tackled the
roughest road so far, towards Roper River, but my first puncture
appeared after 4km. Only 340km to go. bugger!!
Camp that night was about 20km before Nathan River and in the
morning we found a fresh 1.5m snake skin beside the tent! Of coarse the diff
housing was cracked again, bugger!!!
It was a rough road to our camp at Roper Bar where I found 2
cracks in the rear diff and 1 in the front diff, bugger!!!!
The next day it was an easy run on tar to Mataranka thermal
pool and we enjoyed a 34C swim so much we stayed in the caravan park opposite
and spent the rest of the day in the pool.
On Friday we visited Bitter Springs, a very scenic little
spot, then Katherine Gorge where we did a bit of walking to get some photo's
from the cliff tops, but very hot even in the middle of winter. [ maybe my lack
of fitness had something to do with it! ] I found it way to commercialized
for my likeing !
Next we headed to Edith River and camped the night where Stacey
scared the " ****" out of me by throwing a rock in the
deep dark pool I was getting a bucket of water out of!!!, problem was I
lost half the water on my mad scramble up the bank and had to go back to get
Saturday we explored Edith Falls which was well worth the walk
but I'm beginning to wonder why I bought a 4wd as everywhere we go you have to
We then headed for kakadu [ $16.25 ea inc gst ]
and drove up to Gumlon Falls for a look at the very high falls, then on to
Gimbat past some mine ruins [ no access ] , then camped at Kambogle.
On Sunday we took the 4wd only track to Barramundi Gorge and
found we were the only ones there apart from the 14 troopy's belonging to
various tour company's. Somehow the photo's of a beautiful picturesque
waterfall with 150 people crowded into it, didn't seem to be worth taking.
Next, we headed to Cooinda to restock before taking the badly
corrugated road towards Jim Jim Falls where a shovel handle sized stick went
through one sidewall and out the other sidewall, leaving a nice strong
stick [ which I'm now using to join snatch straps ] inside the
tyre carcass. bugger!!!!!
As I was now out of spares, we had to fix the last
puncture in the midday sun . Should have done it early one morning!
Soon we actually put the little lever in as the last 10-15Km
was 4wd territory at last. Camp for the next 2 nights was at Jim Jim Creek
which was large, open and shady.
Monday we forded Jim Jim Creek [1 meter] and drove
to Twin Falls, but as the water was freezing and we didn't have a boat, we
gave this one a miss and headed back to camp, but as we forded Jim Jim
Creek again, an esky floated in front of us and I had to slow to an idle so the
esky wouldn't go under the car.
We saved the esky but water seeped in. We left the esky on the
bank and went back to camp and when I walked back to fetch some water it was
back in the water with a rock on it. Naturally the first car that crossed washed
it out to the middle and it floated off downstream.
After lunch we went for a look at Jim Jim Falls which had
water flowing. It looks really huge from the bottom and from what we heard we
were lucky to see it flowing as the track is normally too deep when the falls
are flowing. We spent the rest of the day swimming at the sandy beach below the
On Tuesday we drove to Jabiru to restock with food and got a
tank of bad fuel . bugger!!!!!!
The injector pump leaked badly and made a hell of a mess under
the car, but at least it wont rust!
The visitors centre was our next stop and we all enjoyed the
video, even the kids! [TV withdrawal probably contributed to their enjoyment]
Afterwards, we headed off to Malabanijbanjdu where we camped by the water with
the crock's and the mossies, which were huge. [there's a story going round which
says a particularly big mossie landed at the airport and they put 100 liters of
avgas in it before they realized! [but I reckon they'd only get 20 liters
in before it got cranky!!]
One of the other campers saw the croc, but even though we
spent half the night looking, we didn't glimpse it again , although every time a
wild pig rustled in the reeds, we all went running down to the bank for another
The next morning we visited Nourlangie Rocks and found it
quite interesting even if the paintwork looks too new to be true! You can
appreciate why the locals liked it so much when your standing under the huge
Next on the list was "Window on the wetland "
on the way to Darwin, the kids loved the interactive games and the video was
also good. Then it was off to Darwin to camp for a couple of days while I had
the diff welded again and flushed out the water and refilled with new oil. [he
even sold me a 80% 33x12.5 mud terrain for $20.00 ]
Autokare did an excellent job, the best anyone has done so
far, but a very small crack appeared again on the rough roads south of Boulia.
On Friday I woke up raring to head bush again and found I had
a flat. bugger!!!!!!!
Needless to say I did the only sensible thing, pumped it up
and headed bush, but first we looked over the museum which was way better than I
expected, so after they dragged me away from sweetheart [ a 5.1 m croc ] and
checked my tire [ still the same pressure ] we drove to Litchfield
National Park and visited Wangie Falls, Tolmie Falls, Florence Falls, Table top
swamp, Buley rockholes and the Lost City.
It was here we found the road closed so we had to backtrack to
the main road, head back up the main road to the turn off, then down the track
to Tjaynera falls where we had to set up camp in the day car park as it was dark
and all the campsites were taken due to the extra time it took to do the
backtracking. [thanks for warning us the road was closed...National Parks
Saturday we went back to Blythe homestead [ where the Lost
City track comes out ] . It must have been made for Gerrish's as the verandah is
only 5' 6 " high. [in metric...that's ...low ] Then we headed to
Surprise creek falls, truly a wonder, with two big bowls carved out of the
rock with one feeding the other with small waterfalls between. The big surprise
was seeing something so good without a tar road in sight!
After dragging ourselves away we decided to do some serious
miles towards home but, Mataranka's thermal pool captured us on the way past,
so we had to stay!
The next day we filled up [ at $1.16 per liter ] at
Dunmarra then headed across the flat and boring Barkly stock route. About
half way across we got another puncture. bugger!!!!!!!! then, not long
after we came across the grave of Jack Brady who died in 1926. We fixed up the
gravesite and continued on to the end then camped at Cresswell Creek surrounded
by shiny layered rocks, very interesting.
On Monday we traveled the equally boring Ranken stock route
where my uhf aerial broke off due to vibration, bugger!!!!!!!!! We then
headed to Mt isa for a replacement but missed the shop by 10 min so camped the
night a few k's out of town.
After buying 2 new aerials we headed for Boulia, then
Bedourie and after traveling all that way over very rough roads, I got a
puncture in the servo driveway. bugger!!!!!!!!!!
We had the two punctures fixed [ the flat from Darwin was
still ok ] then camped on a large waterhole south of town in the Simpson
Next morning with the roads looking even rougher, I let the
tires down to 30 psi before heading towards Windorah but dad still had his tires
up and got another puncture. I should have let them down earlier as it stopped
me getting any more!
Camp that night was at Quilpie caravan park where the sign
says to shower as long as you like as the artesian bore supply's free hot water,
so we did!
Thursday saw us make a beeline for home as Stacey has to get
the plaster off tomorrow, so after 9250km [ on 33" tyres ] over 4 weeks it
was good to not put a tent up.
Hopefully the Canning will be passable next year as these easy
tracks are too hard on the cars!!